A much-asked question by investors in the uranium space regards a particular geopolitical issue; namely, what sort of competitive pressure will Russia be able to apply to other uranium producers? Will Russia exert pressure on Kazakh uranium production and ensure that they can access it?
This question was covered by Crux Investor’s very own resident uranium expert, Brandon Munro, in a recent interview with us.
Matthew Gordon interviews Brandon Munro, 15th June 2020
Russia’s Impact On Kazakh Uranium Production
Grant Isaac, Senior VP/CFO at Cameco, made comments a few weeks ago on this exact topic; he has the same view as Munro. Russia is a country that has extensive nuclear exportation ambitions. However, it lacks sufficient domestic uranium program to satisfy these aims. There is insufficient mined uranium production and there is also a deficiency in treating tailings through the Russian uranium enrichment program.
As a consequence, Russia is perpetually looking across its border towards Kazakhstan in pursuit of uranium-based cooperation. There is already a thorough history of cooperation between the two nations, and a long-standing resemblance in social and cultural values. In addition, the the Kazakh economy is comprehensively integrated into Russia as a consequence of Kazakhstan’s reliance on Russian capital. It is also heavily reliant on Russia as an export market for other goods. I don’t imagine Russia will be too concerned about impaired Kazakh uranium production. Russia should continue to have access to all the material it needs.
However, to the south, China will have much more prominent concerns. In recent history, China has been able to buy as much uranium as it has desired from Kazakhstan. However, if the Russian export program continues down the same path it has been treading, China will have some serious apprehension around its supply of Kazakh uranium. There will be uncertainty surrounding how much uranium will be made available to them from Kazakhstan over the medium-to-long term.
In conclusion, it looks like Russia has a lot of economic authority to leverage over its uranium relationship with Kazakhstan. On the other hand, China could be left out in the cold seeking an alternative reprieve.
If you see something in this article that you agree with, or even disagree with, please let us know in the comments below.
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